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Cannabis Science Conference: The Growth of Psychedelic Therapy in the U.S.



Broughton Toxicologist, Perla Valencia-Landestoy and Senior Consultant, Dr. Adam Bonin attended the Cannabis Science Conference West in Portland, Oregon, this April. Interestingly, the growing psychedelic therapy space was prominently displayed at the conference. Public perception of psychedelic-assisted health therapy is changing, and the presentations and panel discussions highlighted recent research involving psilocybin, ketamine, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA. Psilocybin has shown promise, particularly in mental health therapy and addiction treatment.

Following decades of prohibition and limited underground research, some poignant and significant studies show promising outcomes with psychedelics used in therapy for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), end-of-life care, and alcohol addiction. Oregon’s Measure 109 legalized psilocybin for therapeutic use in 2020. Three years later, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) under the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act has approved a facilitator training program and licensed five facilitators, three psilocybin manufacturers, one testing laboratory, and one service center (as of May 5, 2023) 

The first state to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use is blazing a trail that will likely prove bumpy, especially considering this material remains a federal Schedule 1 substance. Product safety is critically important for all therapeutic materials, so evaluating potential toxicology and risk will be key to propagating an effective and meaningful industry in Oregon. Colorado recently legalized psilocybin therapy, and California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah, and Washington, among others, are also considering bills for medical legalization. The next several years will be interesting to monitor as additional states develop state-specific regulations and facilitator training programs. The economics of Oregon’s new program, with its complex licensing and fee structure, will also be worth watching.

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